Aftermath Tips for Newbies

Obligatory money shot:

25 weeks in. My twins are each the size of a cauliflower, allegedly…if cauliflowers are 5 feet long and made of lead, because dang it that’s how they feel as they press against every internal organ and kick every last nerve in my lady regions.

You guys, I have something to confess: I am like, really old. I honestly don’t think carrying twins would have been this hard fifteen years ago. I’m struggling but more importantly, I can’t even believe I’m struggling. Literally every part of my body constantly hurts so much. My Bell’s has not made a full return (THANK THE LORDT) but it taunts me from 5 p.m. until bedtime with a relentless twitching on left side of my face. My feet swell. My head throbs. I get winded beyond belief just combing my hair.

I am waaaaaay past my pregnancy prime, leading me to become a full-force advocate for child-birthin’ in your twenties and not a moment after.

That said, I still marvel at this giant growing belly, and I am so, so thankful for the lives inside of it. Watching this brother and sister flip and twist and thump–I can’t wait to hold them. I’m excited. I’m anxious. I’m humbled.

This number of children–7–it just feels right. So many times in this past decade I thought we were surely done adding to our family, not necessarily because it’s what we wanted deep down, but because of societal norms and expectations…maybe a little exhaustion. God had different things in mind for us, and it is so much better than anything we could have planned (or prevented) ourselves. I can’t imagine life without any single one of our precious children, including the two on the way, no matter how crabby a twin pregnancy at 38 years old makes me. Being with child (or children) is a blessing and I know it.

And that said, I find myself looking forward to the eviction of these babies from my body more and more everyday. For the first time in a looooong time, I’m nervous about the post-partum weeks: what will a c-section recovery feel like? How will I feed two babies at once? How will I hold or even have time for my other children? Who can I even turn to for parenting advice when Child 3 is aggravating Child 4 but Child 1 lives in Tennessee and Child 2 is too busy to help distract Child 3 and Child 5 has scaled the safety gate and is climbing the stairs while I have Children 6 and 7 attached to my boobs like leaches?

At this point I’m running out of people who have experience with large AND I DO MEAN LARGE families. (The secrets to child-whispering of this magnitude lies of course with my kindergarten teacher friends: y’all the real MVPs.)

In the meantime I will rest in what little knowledge I do have about those six fun weeks after birthing a baby; plus it kinda helps me to think maybe someone out there could use a little friendly advice from a seasoned post-partum-er. *warning to those who just don’t want to read about grodiness, cause post-partum things are not for the faint of heart, which is basically me, but I’ve had no choice.* Here we go:

So, you’ve had your baby, and that was both amazing and probably fairly suckish. Here’s what you know: all your uniquely female parts are embarrassingly sore (ALL OF THEM); your body is playing Texas Chain Saw Massacre without regard for visiting friends and relatives, weather, sleep schedules, and oh–the fact that the hospital allowed you to take a delicate newborn human infant to your actual home? Is blowing your already decimated mind. This is your life now. Prepare to be uncomfortable, and prepare to have NOT ONE PERSON CARE, NO, NOT EVEN ONE!

I have a loving mother and ride-or-die sisters, but they all live in what might as well be another planet. There’s no one to dote on poor Toni after childbirth, but I have learned to thrive, and by “thrive”, I of course mean “not die”.

1. There will be so much tons of blood: Sweet Lord, buy twice as much feminine supplies as you’re instinctively inclined to, and put it all in a handy spot in the bathroom. You just had a baby and now everything your uterus has saved up for 9 months is coming back to take its revenge. Stock up on defcon 5 pads; make peace with feeling like you’re wearing a diaper. Maybe even wear an adult diaper, I don’t even know y’all. Get you a 24-pack of cheap washcloths or handtowels because why not.

2. Have your Tylenol, and eat it too: OUCH, whether it’s from stitches down there, or from your boobs inflating eighty times their normal size, or–(and this is the one I always forget about)–the *awesome* uterine contractions you’ll get whenever you breastfeed: you’ll need pain relief. How long you’ll need it varies from woman to woman, baby to baby–but don’t try and be a hero. Get some medicine inside of you. Some doctors prescribe some heavy-duty drugs upon your leaving the hospital–I always found these to be a little overkill for me, plus I can’t afford to be loopy and out-of-it with 6 million kids running around. But I’m all about taking whatever works for you. Just don’t stay in pain.

3. Drinks! : Swallow an ungodly amount of water every hour upon the hour. Even if it makes you have to pee fifty thousand times a day. Drink the water. Not the Gatorade. Not the diet soda or the sweet tea. Water. Buckets of it. It’s the drink of champions. Little kids in Mexico drink water. In Europe they have water in every home–in every room, actually. Helps your complexion. Helps your bowels. Helps you make milk. Shut up and do it. Don’t whine. Drink the water. Until you float away. Drink. It.

4. Go to the dang bathroom: don’t try to hold it, ever. If you don’t think you have to go, try to go anyway. You are a 5-year-old and YES you do have to try before you leave the house. If no one is around to hold the baby, put the baby in the cradle or on the freakin’ floor and go to the bathroom. The last thing you want is a UTI. I don’t want to talk about how I know this.

5. Back away from the sweets: folks for miles around will think you need dessert, and they would be right! But do not–I REPEAT, DO NOT–gorge yourself on the brownies and bundt cake and monkey bread and chocolate-covered strawberries all in one week. It’s a bad gig. Heck yeah, you want it, you crave it, and after a few solid nights of sleep deprivation, you deserve it…but your body will go absolutely loco, and you’ll hate your life and everyone in it. Do yourself a favor and eat like, so healthy: I’m talking salads with a side of bran, maybe a delicious carrot and flaxseed smoothie. Trust me, it helps. Your mind will be clearer and your colon will thank you.

6. Ya lil’ nasty: you will be so sweaty and gross and your hair will be falling out and you’ll be so sweaty and gross and everything will feel gross and it’s just all gross. You’ll be constipated and exhausted. You might be able to hold it together for company once a day, but at some point, you will feel like a gassy, oily Jabba and it’s not a good feeling. Take advantage of any extra hands you may have and get a shower once a day, for your sanitary sanity. See also: sweating in a cold shower.

7. Hormonal momo-fofos: Oh. Yeah. Crying. Sadness. Happiness. Crying. Tiredness. Burpiness. Crying. Elatedness. Joyfulness. Joylessness. Anger. Exhaustion. Weeping and crying. Gang’s all here! Expect and embrace a roller-coaster ride of emotions in the first couple weeks. Don’t feel bad. Even if you don’t know what you’re crying about, just cry. Laugh through the tears. (And y’all I’m talking about the baby blues, not post-partum depression cause that means is serious and it is lasting and you need to speak to your doctor and you should do that ASAP without feeling the slightest bit of shame.)

8. Sleep when the baby sleeps: and shower when the baby showers, clean when the baby cleans. This advice is not exactly practical when you have one or six other children at home, but if and when you can sneak in a a few minutes’ worth of naptime, then nap. Sleeping is solid gold–it’s better than cleaning, showering, or anything on Netflix. I know I know I know. I’m just saying if you can manage to sleep, do it. If.

9. Wet-T-shirt contest: You’re, um, leaking…breastmilk. From your boobs. Which are hard as rocks and ginormous. This is awkward and also wet and not fun and life is hard and those crummy little breast pads suck booty, cause no matter how often you change them, you’re guaranteed to end up with delightful giant milk circles on your chest, wherever you go but most assuredly in public places. This is THE icing on the cake. As if the gallons of sweat and adult diapers weren’t doing you in by themselves, you’re literally shooting liquid outcher boobs every five seconds. I love that my baby is getting breastmilk, except I hate breastfeeding with the white-hot intensity of a thousand burning suns–it’s too much of a sensory overload for this easily-distracted, anxiety-prone mom; but it matters not, cause boobs will do what boobs do in those first few weeks regardless of how you’re feeding your baby, which is spray people in the DADGUM EYE with milk when not kept under wraps. I’m not coordinated enough for nursing bras so my happy butt stays home with two washcloths shoved down the front an XL sports bra. This is comfortable me; figure out a boob plan that works for you.

10. Accept the help: Do your church girls send meal trains? This was foreign to me during the aftermath of my first three children; by the time Arbor and Lucy rolled around, I had an army of church ladies behind me, ready with the most delicious meals I’ve ever put in my mouth. I didn’t have to cook for three weeks. I had to freeze food for crying out loud. This is most helpful when you got your hands full of crying baby, and the older kids are roaming aimlessly around the house wondering if they’ll have to resort to cannibalism before mommy realizes that all that’s left in the pantry are Kix crumbs and canned mushroom soup. Accept meals and accept any other help that may rear it’s beautiful majestic head: mother-in-law wants to clean your bathroom? GEEZ Let her. Random friend starts folding baby laundry on your couch while she’s visiting? Have at it. BFF offering to take your three-year-old to the library for two hours? Yes please by all means and thank you and I love you forever til I die. *ALSO* allow the hubster to take care of the baby. I know we’re all modern women and we say we want our husbands to help out, but two seconds into any diaper change and we’re throwin’ ‘bows trying to show him how to “do it right”. I’m public enemy number one. But guys–the dudes got this. They can change, dress, wrap, feed, rock, walk, cuddle, calm, soothe, and shush the babies, if you let them. So let them. Let the men do the things. Ask the man to do the things. The man will do the things, and he will do it like the straight dad boss he was made to be–while you take a nap.

I leave one last piece of advice for you, and it’s so important that I can’t simply relegate it to just a number on a list: hold your baby. Just hug her. Snuggle her. Let her fall asleep in your arms. Smell her little sweet baby head. Go on and nuzzle her with your nose. Rock her. Cradle her. Don’t let anyone say “you’re gonna spoil that baby.” Punch people who say that to you.

How many times in your life are you gonna have a newborn baby? Even if your number is seven, it’s still not enough. One day we will be little old ladies in nursing homes and remembering the times when we were the holders of babies, and we will wish we held them more.

This is an incredible time. Babies are special. You are honored with a gift from God in the shape of a tiny human being, and it won’t stay tiny for long. Love on your baby as much as you want to.

I cannot wait to love on mine.


Month 6.

Week 24: I love my life.

I love the yard. I love my chicken. I love the husband and the children and the wildness of our schedule and the lack of sleep and all the friends and the church.

Everything is roses and I have twins growing in my tummy which is infinitely cooler than anything I’ve ever done ever in my life; far more amazing than the time Michael Jackson came over to my house to use the bathroom.

The Oklahoma heat is finally calming the junk down after a long muggy summer. Arbor seems to be coming out from that (2-year-long) phase we do not speak of. Lucy is nothing but smiles and giggles and flirtatious eyelash-batting. Mia and Merrick are eating $300 worth of groceries every 3 days as they play every sport known to mankind. And Caleb is mostly in town being his hilarious wonderful self.

My belly is huge and life is good.

The babies kick hard now. They are a jumble of thumps and kicks and twirls–I can never tell who is actually who. They both move so much.

I’m obsessed with getting their nursery done within the next month, since with each passing week I get more and more exhausted. I have some genuine concerns about my future physical limitations, and all I can picture is Caleb rolling me over in bed to prevent bedsores and infections, maybe scrubbing me with a mop. A time is fast approaching when I will simply stop leaving the house. I am so very afraid of my size potential.

My Bell’s Palsy is trying to make a comeback, which is of course awesome because my self esteem doesn’t suffer enough from the double amount of space my thighs now take up. I’m trying to “rest” it off, which (I think?) is actually helping. Yesterday the entire left side of my face ached and my food tasted like penicillin; today I’m feeling only minimal twitching in my eye. I’m hopeful. It’d really be awful to have photos taken of my newborn twins and me with my half-slumped “not impressed” face:

I can feel my face twitching and wilting and then nothing and then it’s all good after a full 45 minutes’ worth of sleep at night, and then with the twitching. At this juncture Bell’s is probably a suckish nightmare from which there is no escape; I’d rather not deal with it. But if this is my path then I will walk it with dignity and a kickass pirate-patch over my eye.

immobile me

It’s been a long, 5-years (or 1 week). I have caught what I’m pretty sure is the man-flu, commonly referred to as “a cold”. Except in my breathless state, the inability to suck air through my face on a normal day is magnified by exceptionally stuffy nostrils. Did you know pregnant women can produce a ton of extra snot even when they feel perfectly healthy? IT ME. Plus, my non-existent energy levels just dipped into the negative numbers and y’all I feel like I could just die.

I’m so serious, I had to sit down three times walking from the living room to the shower upstairs. And then I couldn’t bring myself to stand up in the shower once I got in so I just sat in the tub and rinsed my hair with a 32-ounce plastic gas station cup like a barbarian.

If anyone needs me I’ll be here over-producing mucus as I huff and puff around the house chasing small children, cause pimpin’ don’t take sick days.

I’ve definitely been in Mrs. Worse mode lately, where the tears are shed freely and everyone eats cereal without milk for dinner. So you guys pray for Mr. Better and the rest of the family: may they all be steadfast with love and understanding, and may they absorb every last ounce of nourishment from those dry crunch berries.

My family and I spent Labor Day weekend at a church retreat in the mountains of Oklahoma (they’re no Colorado Rockies, but some really big boulder-y hills actually exist). I sat in a chair and moved as little as possible, while Caleb wrangled Lucy, Arbor terrorized the cabin, and Mia and Merrick played with friends. We all got to spend time getting to know some of the people at our new church. It was so refreshing for my spirit to get out of the house and focus on God and family.

I couldn’t hike, but that’ll be different next year, I don’t care if I got two babies in a double carrier hanging off the front of me and Lucy riding around on my back. The mountains are calling, and I must go…

…to the kitchen for Greek olives and graham crackers, because it’s like 9:00 p.m. and these twins don’t play around with their nighttime snacks.

We celebrated Arbor’s 4th birthday a few days ago with a homemade cake and a few presents and absolutely zero party-goers, because when it comes to party-planning, my motivation left about…8-10 years ago. Besides, four-year olds who have frequent meltdowns on big days are probably better off with a low-key celebration anyway, and Arbor was beside herself with happiness over her new Belle dress. Then she overdosed on sprinkles and passed the junk out by 6:30.

Good times had by all.

And the worst couple is…

I’m stuck on a marriage theme so bear with me, guys, because 1) One cannot possibly address all there is to address about marriage hardships in a single post, and 2) there have been so, so, so many of my friends and acquaintances who have reached out to me after the last few blogs about our stunning lack of marital bliss behind closed doors; we are by zero means alone in these struggles.

Let’s just get this out there: one of the hardest things–no, THE hardest thing–about working on a marriage, for me, was working on myself.

There’s never a good excuse for some of the crappy things husbands and wives do to each other–but hearing from an objective third party that there was a reason in our case? Was almost unbearable to me…especially when that reason turned out to be crappy behavior on my part, spanning the course of ten years.

For a while I fought this revelation: why should I talk to a counselor about my weaknesses and shortcomings? The problem here isn’t me. I was so resentful of having to face my own problems–so resentful.

But God kept shining a spotlight on issues He knew needed to be resolved in order to do a mighty work in both of us. You always hear this: “If you want to see a change in your husband/kids/dog, you must first change yourself.” Or some junk like that. It’s corny but that doesn’t make it false. I had to change. Like, a lot.

Change is hard for me. And one thing Caleb got to accept while I pushed through was that change was going to be a long process, and I would need him more than I’ve needed him for anything before.

We suddenly remembered those vows about sticking together under God’s direction, for better or for worse.

We all know Mrs. Better. We don’t even need to talk about it. She’s generally awesome–a few quirks, maybe, but they’re tolerable quirks, maybe even cute quirks. It’s a joy to be Mrs. Better.

But I tend to get stuck in Mrs. Worse mode.

Mrs. Worse gets irritable at the end of a long day. Her self-esteem is iffy. She needs constant reassurance about how she looks and how she cooks and how she parents.

Mrs. Worse is an irrational alcoholic who breaks dishes and throws picture frames.

Mrs. Worse gets wrinkles and gains weight, 10, 20, maybe 60 pounds; no matter how often she runs or how much salad she eats, she can’t seem to lose it. She’s no longer pretty and she doesn’t feel like smiling. Mrs. Worse has no time to put on make-up or straighten her hair. The light is gone from her eyes. She is dark, and drained.

Mrs. Worse is too tired for romantic candlelight. Her neck hurts and she is angry for a reason she can’t pinpoint. The bed is for sleeping only, and sometimes not even that.

Mrs. Worse wakes up exhausted. She’s depression and suspicion and hostility all rolled up into a fat little ball of hidden credit card debt and endless closet-crying sessions.

Mrs. Worse is so overwhelmed trying to measure up that she can’t think straight. She distracts herself with volunteer activities and friends, buried herself in mothering, and ignores anything with a negative tint to it. She takes, and blames, and shuts down.

Mrs. Worse needs medication and prayer and sleep, but Mrs. Worse fights that need with everything she has, which isn’t much.

Mrs. Worse carries some baggage y’all, and girl can hold a grudge.

When my Mrs. Worse finally got some professional help, it was like a demon was being exercised from my heart. Oh she’s still there, kinda like the Dark Phoenix, but most days she’s held at bay; on the days she rages, Caleb’s Mr. Better is in full effect.

For us to function as friends, as husband and wife, as parents, or as a unified any kind of pair, we have to let Christ take His place as the center of our everything. Jesus is what holds us together as a couple and as individuals; we are who He says we are, and the list of our attributes as children of God is long: loved, belonging, cherished, strong.

In Christ, we are better, but Mr. and Mrs. Worse? They are worth every discomfort, every sacrifice; they are worth dying for.

whine much

Captain’s Log, if I was a captain who was in charge of things and didn’t lose her grip on an hourly basis; Pregnancy #300, Day 5,880:

Shaving has ceased.

My ash is still smarting from falling out of a chair last week. Well, I mean, I broke the chair. It was as a hanging chair that broke while I was sitting in it. It’s not my fault. The rope was frayed. I’m so embarrassed. Moving on.

Today I broke my rule of no ice cream until 7:00 p.m. That chocolate-flavored creamy goodness hit my soul before lunchtime and opened my eyes to a whole new way of life. I’m on my sixth round of pregnancy–this time with friggin’ twins–and dang it I just wanted ice cream. It has nothing to do with why a chair was inexplicably broken, and I have no regrets.


It’s safe to say I’ve done this about a thousand times, right? And yet here I am, surprised to be experiencing late pregnancy symptoms such as:

1) Round ligament pain for the very first time. I’m sure this should not come as a surprise since I’m almost grandma-esque in age, but to me it is shocking and appalling and also really really unfair, because Charlie-horses in your giant pregnant underbelly just are unfair.

2) See also: Braxton Hicks contractions in full force just like always.

3) Restless leg syndrome at bedtime in the realest of ways from just half a cup of half-caff at 6:30 a.m. That’s new and also distressing, because I’ve already given up so much coffee.

Week 22 has been full of exciting symptoms but by far the most enjoyable side-effect of pregnancy, I would have to say, is (drumroll):

4) Shortness of breath.

I am out of air. I can’t walk five feet without feeling faint and gasping for breath; hell I can barely stand up without keeling straight over. Walking upstairs? FORGET ABOUT IT. Actually, don’t forget about it because all the kids rooms are upstairs and if I know what good for me, I’ll make the trek to the second floor at least once a day just to make sure no one left, say, (and this is just off the top of my head), an open container of Sunkist sitting out on a window sill for a week providing a swimming pool for ants. I sound like Marilyn Monroe when I talk, if Marilyn Monroe was a chain-smoking asthmatic newborn with a single underdeveloped lung.

Arbor, Lucy, and I take a self-imposed mandatory nap every day at noon; if this crucial break is not had, there is hell to pay for the entirety of my household, right down to the pet yard chicken who dares to take her massive craps on the welcome mat.

I’m not sure how I will be able to survive the next three months, logistically speaking, and everything I read as far as advice to women carrying twins goes a little like this: “Sit and relax with your feet up as much as possible, and don’t concern yourself with getting anyone to school or practice, ever. While your other children tear up the entire house and destroy each other, sleep with a pillow in between your legs and order out for dinner. While your one-year-old daughter jumps off the top of the refrigerator and your son Jackie-Chans actual walls, take a soothing soak in a warm bath. Don’t be afraid to ask for help with laundry for your family with four children who change clothes 80 times a day! Hire a professional cleaner because who really needs to worry about budgeting for groceries to feed six hungry mouths? Don’t forget to wear compression socks!”

It’s all temporary. It’s all temporary.

The babies are awesome. They be growing and thriving and moving and shaking, with perfect measurements and perfect heart rates every time I see them, which is at least once a month. I seriously could wallpaper a room with all their ultrasound photos. I love these guys, and I cannot wait to see them, and it’s an understatement to say that those are understatements.

I cannot. Wait.

Get you a Patrick

We all pretty much knew Duncan was a shoe-in for our son’s first name, but the “Patrick” part might seem random, given my awesome Italian/Polish heritage and Caleb’s affinity for names starting with “R-I-D-D-I-C-K”. I am so proud to finally be able to share why we chose this middle name for our son.

Patrick is the dad of one of my very good friends. He and Caleb hit it off at a sports game that Mia and one of his grandkids were playing at, and they’ve been like cocaine and waffles ever since. It’s an odd matchup—no one ever quite understood why Patrick and Caleb could talk and talk and talk until they were blue in the face and dead, but it was a sweet friendship nonetheless and it worked. What started out as two dudes casually conversing on the sidelines of a soccer field gave way to an Obi-Wan/Luke Skywalker relationship. Patrick became sort of a mentor to Caleb, offering the kind of godly wisdom advice Caleb often needed when it came to work, managing money, and parenting.

Caleb and Patrick kept in touch through phone calls over the years, and on a particularly fateful day in our marriage, Caleb called him seeking out his voice of reason, and his counsel as a strong Christian. This man, Patrick, who answered his phone in the middle of a work project, stopped what he was doing and took four hours (or more) to convince Caleb not to make a choice that would’ve negatively affected every aspect of his life and our family. “You either believe what the Bible says about marriage or you do not. You either obey God or you willfully disobey Him. I’m not getting off of this phone until you agree to stay and work on your marriage,” were the resolute words Patrick used, as he unflinchingly told Caleb what he needed to hear (vs what he wanted to hear.) Patrick was literally the rock that blocked Caleb from going down a very bad path.

And so, Caleb stayed.

Even when our road got rockier, and he had to sleep in his truck when I locked the doors on him at night, Caleb stayed. Even when I couldn’t stand the sight of him, he stayed. He talked to Patrick. And Patrick told him to stay the course.

Patrick gave him the name of a counselor who was able to further direct us in our struggles. We became friends again, and our bond as husband and wife grew more in six months than it had in eleven years.

Caleb talked and talked to Patrick. Patrick listened, taught, and encouraged with the intention of leading my husband (and consequently, the whole family) closer to Jesus.

Everyone needs someone like this.

Patrick is not Caleb’s dad, but he took the time and resolved to make an impact in a younger person’s life. The four hours he spent on the phone with my husband that day made a lifetime of difference to us and to our children, and to everyone around us who saw miraculous changes take place, Christians and non-Christians alike.

There wouldn’t be a Duncan without Patrick.

Y’all be Patrick to someone. Pour into that person. Be patient and steadfast when they are frustrated and itching to blow wherever the wind takes them that day. Be the example they don’t see anywhere else. Be a light in the darkness.

Be the loving hands and feet of Jesus to people who may or may not be able to return the favor one day; but who may surely praise God for the works He did through your obedience.

It is my hope that Caleb and I can provide this to all our kids.

Thank you Mr. Patrick, and thank you also Mrs. Patrick’s Wife, who must have gotten real tired of all my husband’s inconveniently-timed phone calls. We love your family so very much.

Thoughts on a Friday

Here’s what’s up: we bought a cow.

And not just any cow–a dead cow, which is Tetris-ed into our deep freezer, all cut up and delicious-looking, and now we can play a dangerous game of “Steak” whenever the mood strikes us over the course of the next year.

It’s a thing people do up here, and I don’t feel one bit bad about it, especially since this cow was a happy, healthy, pampered grass-fed farm cow who lived his best life yesterday and is now going on to serve his higher purpose of nourishing my family of ninety, may he Rest In Peace, this cow, in my belly.

We have also done this exact thing to a pig, except we got to know the pig first and feed the pig and love the pig and name the pig. Brunch, the pig, made the ultimate sacrifice non-voluntarily, and well–farm life has gotten a lot better since we started eating mo’ bacon.


In other news, Mia is still playing softball 24/7. She is *allegedly* in high school, which is probably a bogus lie the government got me to believe by rearranging time and space and making me think it’s the made-up year of 2018.

Merrick is loving 5th grade and is obsessed with basketball and breaking so-and-so’s ankles (I’ve heard this phrase eighty times a day for a year and I still don’t know and don’t care what it means) and flossing. OH THE FLOSSING. So much flossing going on in this house. It’s insanity, with the flossing.

Arbor, Lucy, and I are back to our quiet weekday routine where we make breakfast, clean the house, read books, take naps. Lucy smiles and laughs and bats her eyelashes adorably almost all day long. It’s a fantastic routine, and I have trained Arbor to lay quietly next to me in my bed while I conk the junk out for an hour during Lucy’s nap, and not to move or disturb me under no circumstances. She usually never sleeps, just watches a video and draws “tattoos” all over herself with a ballpoint pen, but I wake up feeling completely unrefreshed and covered in my own slobber, so it’s a win-win for both of us.

Caleb started a new job doing the same old thing for a new company, except now he’s jazzed because he can see progress being made whereas with his old company, each day ended with the same frustrations and the future did not look promising.

So here we are in this moment: new job, twins coming, kids thriving, autumn pending, and life is sweet.

For us, for now.

All around me, people I love are hurting and struggling. The response to my last post has been overwhelming; the number of people who reached out to me and shared their stories was touching, and humbling. Prayer needs are great, and they are many. My heart breaks in a thousand pieces for the ones I love who are fighting so hard to do right and honorable things; but I know my God and He reigns powerfully above all our problems. Plus He tends to crush it in the justice department so there’s that.

If you’re a pray-er, remember those people who are in the battle of a lifetime for their marriages. Remember children who are looking for stable homes and loving parents. Remember widows and orphans and cancer patients and their families. These are my relatives and best friends, my people, my heart.

There are days when I’m feeling pretty on top of the world, but I’ve been in the trenches a time or two. May God fill us with peace in every tough situation we find ourselves in; may we never neglect to help others make it out from where we’ve been.

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